Should Dearborn County residents be concerned about their drinking water?

DEARBORN COUNTY, IN (FOX19) - Some residents in Dearborn County are worried about their drinking water supply. They say a retired power plant is illegally dumping contaminants by the Ohio River, which could jeopardize the underground system.

Matt Miles, a certified chemist, says if something isn't done soon half of Dearborn County's residents will be impacted.

"We will have to wait for redevelopment and drink bottled water out of vans like in Flint, Michigan," he says.

The power plant is in the process of being demolished and is owned by Tanners Creek Development LLC. Miles says the debris is being illegally dumped by the company. FOX19 tried reaching out Commercial Development Company Inc (CDC) an affiliate of Tanners Creek for comment and is waiting to hear back.

"Tanners Creek LLC is one of their subsidiaries. Everywhere they go they install a new LLC so their history doesn't follow them," said Miles.

The property where the plant used to stand is in the process of being purchased by the Ports of Indiana. According to CDC's website that sale is expected to be complete in December. FOX19 also left a voicemail for them.

FOX19 reached out to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) for comment. We were told they are monitoring the situation closely. A spokesperson said further details are expected to be available later this week.

Miles is also a former Army water purification specialist. He says the responsibility should lie on the shoulders of local government officials, not the state. He wants the Southeastern Indiana Regional Port Authority (SIRPA) to step up. SIRPA is comprised of 12 area mayors and city officials from places like Lawrenceburg and Aurora.

"If our local government won't act in our best interest we will have to file suit and basically force their hand," said Miles.

FOX19 reached out to SIRPA for comment and received the following statement from their attorney:

"We are aware of the concerns being raised by one of our citizens, however, we do not understand why he is targeting SIRPA or the elected officials that serve on our board.  The site is privately owned and Ports of Indiana has an option to purchase the property at the conclusion of the environmental clean-up. SIRPA does not own the property and has no authority over the property. The property in question, as an environmental clean-up and closure of a retired power plant, is monitored by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). Several local officials have met with this individual and he has been repeatedly instructed him to direct his complaints to IDEM. He has been provided with a telephone number to report complaints as well as a website with which he can report complaints via the Internet.  For reasons unknown, he has refused to do this. The water wells around the site are routinely tested, as the permit for the site requires, and the results of those tests are sent to IDEM.  On their own accord, and outside of any requirement from the State of Indiana, Lawrenceburg Municipal Utilities tested the water wells in March 2018 and the results were normal and no violations were found. This measure was a proactive step taken by the City of Lawrenceburg to ensure that the quality of the water in our area is safe for our citizens.  Additionally, IDEM routinely inspects the site, with the most recent inspection occurring on May 10, 2018, which found no violations.  Based on the inspections conducted by local agencies as well as state agencies, it would appear that the evidence does not support the accusations being made by this citizen."

"It's not about whether it's there yet. It's about stopping it from getting there," said Miles.

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